Butler looking like a good bet 

April, 3, 2011

As has been typical of this tournament, no one in the Wiseguy brackets proved to be better than the rest. Of my Final Four finalists -- Paul Stone (who had VCU and UConn), Sal from madduxsports.com (Butler and pass on UConn-UK), Alan Boston (Butler, UK) and Paul Bessire from predictionmachine.com (Butler, UK) -- only Sal went undefeated. And that was because he didn't have enough faith in UConn or Kentucky to risk any bankroll on that game.

Heading into the finals, bettors feel the same way. A cursory glance at sites like pregame.com and sportsinsights.com showed me two things: 1) The line, which opened UConn minus-4 (and 4.5 in at least one place according to Boston), was now down to Butler plus-3.5; and 2) with 66 percent of people making bets on Butler, I would not be surprised if this number went even lower. What should scare everyone -- again, especially the way this tourney has gone -- is that the sharps and the public seem to agree on this game. And it's not just one style of capper, either. I've been choosing the guys I speak to not just because of their history of success (long term, not necessarily this tourney, although they were the only guys I polled in the bracket who finished .500 or better) but because of their different styles.

Sal has a super database that analyzes situations, but he also relies heavily on stats and analysis to look for advantages. Paul Bessire uses an algorithm and plays the game 50,000 times to get a sense of how the real contest will play out. Boston and Paul Stone are more traditionalists -- they read about the teams, watch a lot of games and rely on an understanding of the coaches and personnel to come up with their picks. The fact all of them, no matter what their style, side with Butler leads me to believe that bookmakers grossly overvalued UConn and sharp handicappers and a large portion of the public have the books' number. Or bookmakers know something we don't and we have all gone mush this tourney. Historically, the latter has been the case. That is what scares me.

Since no one in the Wiseguy bracket actually pulled ahead to distinguish themselves, they all get a pass into the finals. Herewith, the Wiseguy bracket title game breakdowns: